to prepare and micro-manage every aspect
of the trip to make it smooth, easy and safe.
know that sending a child unaccompanied on an airplane involves
the risk of the child getting lost," says former flight attendant
and airline-safety author Diana Fairechild.
research has "uncovered many incidents of what the airlines
call 'misplaced minors.' One example is a 7-year-old, booked to
fly from San Francisco to Southern California, who wound up in
uncertainty is "the horror of being assigned an abusive seatmate,"
warns Fairechild, alluding to a new policy now endorsed by some
airlines which denies male passengers a seat next to a child if
both are flying alone.
of this new airline policy say it is an example of political correctness
gone amuck, Fairechild quotes a saying known to all airline insiders:
"No regulation in aviation takes effect without somebody's
blood on it." She adds, "It indicates here that the
existence of abusive seatmates is now severe enough for the airlines
to acknowledge it."
UM - Unaccompanied
airlines refer to children flying solo as "unaccompanied
minors"(UM). UMs are between ages 5 and 11 or 14 (depending
on the airline).
is a misconception that the airlines will provide a baby-sitting
service for UMs," says Fairechild. "What they provide
is simply an airline employee escort from the ticket counter or
departure gate to the child's seat on board and, at the arrival
airport, another escort off the plane to the adult picking them
For this service,
children are charged the full adult price for the ticket (not
the discount they are entitled to when traveling with adults)
plus a surcharge that can be as much as $100 each way depending
on the length of the flight and if there are connecting flights.
reduce parental anxiety when relinquishing a child to an airline,
Fairechild has developed some excellent strategies for parents
extended families. While waiting on line to check in, if you see
families, ask if they are on the same flight and introduce your
seating. Request a seat close to the galley so flight attendants
are always within view.
choose a seat in a front row where there is no under-seat storage
for the child's carry-on, which needs to remain handy throughout
the flight rather than inaccessibly stowed in an overhead bin.
a window seat because the view is awesome.
3. Child's carry-on.
Keep it light. Essentials to include:
photo ID and medical history.
for the child and your contact information.
of the person meeting the child with their name and phone number
on the back.